Mole Negro: the Famous Oaxacan Black Mole, Part I

The famous spicy Mexican sauce doesn't get any better than this mole negro version

To native English speakers, the term "black mole" may conjure up images of dark-haired little dirt-digging rodents. But the mole in this case is pronounced "moh-lay," and refers to the chocolaty Mexico sauce typically served as a festival food at weddings and special birthdays.

At first taste, you may find mole in general (and black mole in particular) a bit surprising. Lacking sugar, the ancient Mexicans mixed a local standby into their cocoa: chili peppers. One result, black mole sauce, was one of the native culinary creations co-opted into modern Mexican cuisine.

Our Favorite Mole Negro Recipe

Please note that this recipe is complex and time-consuming, so it's not for the faint of heart! Then too, some of the ingredients you'll need are hard to get, but you can find them online. And given the complexity, it's going to have to be a two-parter. But we think it's worth the wait, in all senses!

Ingredients:

• 2 ounces of chihuacle negro chile peppers
• 5 1/2 ounces of mullato peppers
• 2 ounces of pasilla peppers
• 2 tortillas, torn into small pieces
• 1/2 of a small onion, peeled and thickly sliced
• 8 chopped plum tomatoes
• 4 ounces of husked and chopped tomatillos
• 1 ripe banana
• 2 slices of toasted bread
• 1/2 cup of sesame seeds
• 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
• 1/4 cup of peanuts
• 1/4 cup of almonds
• 4 peeled garlic cloves
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 teaspoon of oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
• 3 ounces (1 tablet) of a Mexican cooking chocolate, such as Ibarra
• Cooking oil
• 3 quarts of chicken stock
• Sugar to taste
• Salt to taste

Once you've gathered your impressive array of ingredients, it's time to get to work. Expect this to take you 3-4 hours, minimum.

Start with the peppers. Cut off the stems, then slice them open, pull out the seeds, and set both the peppers and the seeds aside. Then sear the seeds and the tortilla in a lightly oiled, very hot pan until they're literally black. This will cause a lot of smoke, so turn on your vent fan.

Rinse the blackened seeds in a strainer until they're cool and the ash washes away. Then put them in a blender, and toss in the toast while you're at it. Next: roast the onion slices and garlic on high heat until they're soft before moving them to a bowl and putting them aside...

And oh snap, we're out of space!

But There's More!

Bear with us, folks, we're just getting started here. See Part II for the rest of our fabulous Oaxacan mole negro recipe!

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